International Ice Hockey Federation

U.S. outguns Swiss

Three points for Hughes in sloppy American win

Published 15.08.2018 10:50 GMT+5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
U.S. outguns Swiss
MAGNITOGORSK, RUSSIA - APRIL 20: USA's Jack Hughes #6 celebrates after scoring on Switzerland's Akira Schmid #29 during preliminary round action at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The U.S. grabbed a 3-0 first-period lead, but Switzerland stunningly went up 5-4 in the second before falling 8-5 to the defending champions on Friday.

It was a wild affair. Solid positioning? Nope. Back-checking? Nope. This is what happens sometimes when you get a bunch of teenagers together. Regardless of their great talent.

"It was crazy!" said U.S. coach Seth Appert. "I’ve been in a few games like that, but not a ton. We had a great start, obviously. I thought we got a little sloppy and cheating on offense at the end of the first. Then all of a sudden it’s 3-2 and the game got completely out of control for the rest of the second period. We matured a little bit in the third, but we’re going to need to grow up in this tournament on our puck decisions and how risky we want to play."

Touted as a potential #1 overall NHL draft pick in 2019, U.S. scoring leader Jack Hughes continued to shine with two goals, including the second-period winner, and an assist. Oliver Wahlstrom and Alexander Turcotte added a goal and an assist apiece, and Trevor Janicke, Joel Farabee, Tyler Weiss and Mattias Samuelsson also scored for the Americans. Cameron York had three helpers.

"I thought we kind of stuck with it toward the end," said York. "We went through some adversity, getting down 5-4, but I think after that we dialed it back in and got the win."

Julian Mettler stepped up with two goals and an assist for Switzerland, and his linemates Kyen Sopa and Gian-Marco Wetter had two assists and three assists respectively. Gilian Kohler, Alessandro Villa, and Stephane Patry added singles.

"It was a crazy game," said Swiss coach Thierry Paterlini. "We slept in the beginning, but then we buried a lot of chances, but not all of them. In the end, the better quality of the U.S. prevailed."

Both goalies saw their first action of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. Switzerland's Akira Schmid was far busier than the U.S.'s Spencer Knight as shots favored the Americans 57-19.

It has not been a banner effort defensively for the Americans so far. They have surrendered 11 goals in two games, including Thursday's opening 6-4 loss to archrival Canada less than 24 hours ago. They will need to be better against Sweden on Saturday.

"We just need to work on our D-zone, be a little more honest," said Wahlstrom. "All of us are kind of antsy to get to the offensive zone."

Paterlini's boys showed great instincts on the counterattack, but a bad start was their undoing as they failed to rebound after losing 3-1 to Sweden in their opener. They face Canada next on Sunday.

Hughes opened the scoring with his second goal of the tournament at 2:54. After Swiss defenceman Nico Gross handed away the puck behind the Swiss net, Wahlstrom centred it to the 16-year-old phenom, who put it through Schmid’s legs.

Just 41 seconds later, Janicke made it 2-0, banging the puck in as the Americans swarmed the net after a faceoff in the Swiss end. At 4:50, Turcotte scored on a magnificent solo jaunt, cutting in off left wing, sliding the puck through Villa, and beating Schmid in tight.

"I got a good pass from Mattias Samuelsson in the neutral zone, drove wide, and made a little move to the inside and took it to the net," said Turcote.

The Swiss called their timeout and got a temporary boost. At 6:02, Mettler finished off a nice 3-on-2 rush with his linemates Kyen Sopa and Gian-Marco Wetter to make it 3-1.

The U.S. then got sloppy, allowing multiple Swiss counterattacks, and the trend continued into the second period. Knight coughed up the puck in the corner to his right, his teammates didn’t provide good support, and again Mettler was in prime position to capitalize in front at 0:58.

Farabee came down right wing to give the U.S. a 4-2 lead with a top-corner laser on the stick side at 7:22.

Then things got really interesting. The Swiss struck right back at 8:19. Kohler completed a fantastic passing play on the rush, firing it into the gaping cage. And 29 seconds afterwards, Villa atoned for his earlier blunder against Turcotte, golfing a shot from the blue line past Knight. Tie game!

The Swiss jumped into a 5-4 lead on an odd-man rush, as Mettler fed it cross-ice to Patry for the in-tight finish. The unthinkable was now eminently possible. But the Americans had other ideas.

"When you’re leading halfway through the game, you start dreaming, but we knew it would be tough against the U.S," said Paterlini.

Wahlstrom made it a 5-5 tie at 16:04 with a one-timer from Alexander Ovechkin's favorite spot in the left faceoff circle. It was his third power-play goal of the tournament.

"Yorkie came down and gave me a nice saucer pass there," said Wahlstrom. "I was very fortunate to be in my favorite spot there and hammer that one home."

Hughes made it 6-5 at 18:25, Johnny-on-the-spot to backhand a Wahlstrom rebound past Schmid.

"He’s a great player," Turcotte said of Hughes. "It’s a pleasure playing with him and watching him."

After the Swiss failed to capitalize on an early third-period 4-on-3 man advantage, Weiss gave the U.S. a two-goal gap when he raced into the right faceoff circle and zipped the puck past Schmid's right skate at 5:35.

Just over a minute later, Mattias Samuelsson, the U.S. captain, stepped in off the line to make it 8-5 through traffic. There would be no second Swiss comeback.

"Of course, it’s tough if you shoot five goals against the U.S. and lose, but if you allow eight, you will lose against anyone," said Switzerland's Janis. Moser.

Historically for Switzerland, beating the Americans in U18 competition has been as tough as climbing the Matterhorn in flip-flops. This was the ninth all-time U.S. victory dating back to 2001. The only Swiss win was 4-2 in 2014.